Coronavirus UK LIVE: Matt Hancock unveils National Institute for Health Protection as Public Health England SCRAPPED

Coronavirus UK LIVE: Matt Hancock unveils National Institute for Health Protection as Public Health England SCRAPPED

HEALTH Secretary Matt Hancock today announced that Public Health England will be SCRAPPED and replaced with a new body following the coronavirus crisis.

After a series of bungling errors during the coronavirus pandemic, the Health secretary unveiled the new National Institute for Health Protection to bring together several organisations.

Mr Hancock vowed that the new department – which will report directly to ministers – will focus specifically on getting Britain ready to beat any external health threats that it may face.

Meanwhile, Leicester's local lockdown is set to be lifted today – seven weeks after it started following an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases.

Currently, residents are banned from meeting people from different households in their homes and gardens.

Gyms and wedding ceremonies are also off limits for the city’s residents.

But with cases now falling, Health Secretary Matt Hancock is expected to ease the majority of restrictions.

The coronavirus death toll rose by three in the UK on Monday, with total fatalities numbering 41,369.

Follow our coronavirus live blog for all the latest news and updates…

  • WOMEN LEADERS SAVED LIVES FROM COVID-19 BY LOCKING DOWN EARLIER, STUDY SAYS

    Women leaders acted “more quickly and decisively” to save lives by locking down their nations to slow the spread of coronavirus, according to a study.

    Their actions in the early days of the pandemic resulted in “systematically and significantly better” outcomes for their citizens than in countries led by men, the research suggested.

    The scientists said there is a “definite and consistent pattern” showing a lower number of Covid-19 deaths in women-led nations when accounting for a variety of factors.

    Men such as Prime Minister Boris Johnson have come under criticism for not enforcing harsh restrictions to control the virus soon enough, while women like New Zealand's Jacinda Ardern have been heralded for their swift action.

    But the scientists in the research published by the World Economic Forum tried to ascertain whether having a woman in charge was beneficial in the first quarter of the pandemic so far.

  • TRAVELLERS RETURNING TO ITALY TESTED

    Travellers returning to Italy from Greece, Spain, Malta and Croatia lined up at centres across Rome to be tested for coronavirus after the health ministry imposed mandatory screening on visitors to the four countries.

    Since some Italian airports are still not offering on site tests, people have been forced to attend local screening centres to comply with the regulation passed last week.

  • SPECIALISTS WORK TO REMOVE LOCKDOWN DUST FROM EXHIBITS AT THE BRITISH MUSEUM

    Specialists are working on the biggest single cleaning programme at the British Museum in decades after dust accumulated on artefacts during the lockdown.

    Teams of experts have been cleaning the surfaces of the exhibits in order to prevent them from getting damaged by the particles.

    More than 30 staff members have been working on dusting the museum's collections for around three weeks.

    The London venue, which has been shut to visitors because of the coronavirus pandemic, is set to reopen on August 27.

  • CORONAVIRUS CASES AMONG PUPILS WILL INEVITABLY RISE, SAYS STURGEON

    A rise in the number of pupils contracting Covid-19 is inevitable, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

    The First Minister spoke about the clusters of the virus across the country, including those affecting schools, at the Scottish Government's coronavirus briefing in Edinburgh on Tuesday.

    She stressed the importance of keeping schools open as the harms of children losing out in an education are “considerable”.

    “But we will inevitably I think see more cases which involve school pupils in the weeks and months ahead,” she said.

    “In those cases, as has happened in the ones that I've mentioned today, contact tracers will identify if other students or staff at schools need to isolate and will let them and their parents know.”

  • 'NOWHERE NEAR HERD IMMUNITY'

    The World Health Organisation says the planet is nowhere near the amount of coronavirus immunity needed for herd immunity – where enough of the population would have antibodies to stop the spread.

    Herd immunity is typically achieved with vaccination and most scientists estimate at least 70% of the population must have antibodies to prevent an outbreak.

    WHOs emergencies chief Dr. Michael Ryan said: “As a global population, we are nowhere close to the levels of immunity required to stop this disease transmitting. This is not a solution and not a solution we should be looking to.”

  • FRANCE MAKES MASKS AT WORK MANDATORY

    France will make mask wearing mandatory in work places starting from Sept. 1, with some exceptions, the head of one the leading unions told BFM TV on Tuesday.

    Yves Veyrier, leader of Force ouvriere, said: “The government deems it necessary to wear a mask when you're not alone (in the work place).”

    He added that the labour minister had made it clear it was up to the companies concerned to pay for the masks.

  • ASDA SALES RISE

    Asda said its second quarter sales rose 3.8%, benefiting from strong growth in grocery sales during the country's coronavirus lockdown.

    The outcome compares with growth of 3.5% in the previous quarter.

    Asda highlighted a doubling of online grocery sales and a quadrupling of click and collect sales in the quarter.

    However, it said its operating income fell in the April 1 to June 30 period, partly because of incremental costs related to the pandemic.

  • EAT OUT TO HELP OUT

    The government says it has subsidised more than 35 million restaurant meals over the past two weeks as part of a temporary programme to encourage diners to support the hospitality industry as it reopened after the coronavirus pandemic.

    Under the “Eat Out to Help Out” programme, restaurants, pubs and cafes can discount food prices by 50%, up to 10 pounds ($13) per diner, with the government paying the difference.

    The discount applies on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays in August.

  • NO NEW DEATHS IN SCOTLAND

    No new coronavirus deaths have been reported in Scotland in the last 24 hours, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said.

    A total of 2,491 patients have died from coronavirus in Scotland since the start of the pandemic.

    Speaking during the Scottish Government's daily briefing, the First Minister said 19,407 people have tested positive for the virus in Scotland, up by 49 from 19,358 the day before.

    There are 254 people in hospital with confirmed or suspected Covid-19, an increase of six in 24 hours.

  • NIHP TO MAINTAIN INDEPENDENCE

    Matt Hancock insisted the National Institute for Health Protection (NIHP) will maintain a level of independence in order for ministers to get impartial advice.

    Asked by Jonathan McShane, chair of the Terrence Higgins Trust, about the independence of the new organisation, Mr Hancock said: “I absolutely want to be provided with the best possible advice that is objective and given without fear or favour and as open to external challenge as possible.

    “At the same time, you need operationally to be able to come together and work seamlessly together, and if you formalise independence too much you can cause friction in that part of the relationship which gets in the way of response.

    “So, the way that we're going to structure this with the new NIHP is that for clinical analysis and clinical purposes it reports to the CMO, who is independent in terms of his advice to ministers.

    “I get very clear advice from Chris Whitty and he certainly doesn't aim off according to my views.”

  • HANCOCK: NEW ORGANISATION 'WORLD-RENOWNED'

    Mr Hancock said he had “every confidence” that the National Institute for Health Protection will be “world-renowned”.

    He added: “There's also the question of why now?

    “One of the lessons I've learned from the crisis is that if something is the right thing to do, then putting off the change is usually the wrong thing to do.

    “I hope we have struck a balance between showing exactly where we are going immediately and then having the time to ensure that we build that institution properly.”

  • FLU KILLING MORE THAN COVID

    Flu has killed more people in the UK than coronavirus for eight weeks in a row, new figures show.

    Almost seven times as many people are now dying of influenza or pneumonia than Covid-19, according to the latest data from the Office for National Statistics.

    In the eight weeks up to August 7, the latest date for which figures are available, 3,144 people died of coronavirus – but 7,639 died of flu or pneumonia.

    Eight weeks ago, a total of 1,002 died of influenza up to June 19 – compared with 783 Covid-19 deaths.

    The gap has widened each week since and the latest figures show flu killed 1,013 people in the week up to August 7 – almost seven times as many as the 152 who lost their lives to coronavirus.

  • HARDING TO LEAD NEW BODY

    Mr Hancock confirmed that Baroness Harding would provide interim leadership for the new National Institute for Health Protection.

    He said: “From today, PHE, the JBC (Joint Biosecurity Centre) and NHS Test and Trace will operate under single leadership, reporting to Baroness Dido Harding, who will establish the NIHP and undertake the global search for its future leadership.

    “I have no doubt that under Baroness Harding we will found the NIHP as a thriving, mission-driven organisation.

    “We have a common mission, the greatest mission of any of our working lives, and we have no time to lose in building the institution of the future.”

  • HANCOCK – ANNOUNCEMENT

    “My single biggest fear is a novel flu, or another major health alert, hitting us right now in the middle of this battle against coronavirus.

    “Even once this crisis has passed, and it will pass, we need a disease control infrastructure that gives us the permanent standing capacity to respond as a nation and the ability to scale up at pace.

    “We need an institution whose only job is to respond to external threats, like pandemics. It will bring focus.”

  • HANCOCK – ANNOUNCEMENT

    “The National Institute for Health Protection will focus, focus, focus on the science and the scale needed for pandemic response.”

  • HANCOCK – ANNOUNCEMENT

    “That mission is for a purpose – so we have a stronger, more joined up response to protect people and the communities in which they live.

    “It will report directly to ministers and support the clinical leadership of the chief medical officers. It will be dedicated to the investigation and prevention of infectious diseases and external health threats.

    “It will help maintain vigilance for years to come.”

  • HANCOCK – ANNOUNCEMENT

    “The world has not seen a pandemic on this scale in modern times.

    “While we have some of the best public health science in the world, we did not go into this crisis with the capacity for a response to a once in a century scale event.

    “To give ourselves the best chance of beating this virus, we need to bring together the science and the scale into one coherent hole. So today I am announcing we are forming a new organisation, the National Institute for Health Protection.

    “It will have a single and relentless mission – protecting people from external threats to this country's health.”

  • HANCOCK – ANNOUNCEMENT

    The Health Secretary is making a speech at the Policy Exchange.

    He said: “The coronavirus pandemic has shone a light on our public health system and we've learned a lot about the virus, about what's worked, about what needs to change.

    “The changes I am announcing today are designed entirely to strengthen our response, to ensure the system works to help you do your vital work.

    “We're making the change now because we must do everything we can to fulfill our responsibilities to the public to strengthen public health in the UK.”

  • OPENING MATCH IN LIGUE 1 POSTPONED

    The opening match of the season for France's top football league, Ligue 1, has been postponed from Friday to either September 16 or 17.

    Three new coronavirus cases were confirmed at Olympique de Marseille, bringing the club's total to four, meaning its game against Saint Etienne could not go ahead.

  • LESS THAN A THIRD OF PEOPLE TESTING POSITIVE REPORTED COVID SYMPTOMS, DATA SHOWS

    Less than a third of people testing positive for coronavirus reported having symptoms, new figures have shown.

    An analysis by the Office for National Statistics found that only around 28% of people testing positive for Covid-19 reported any evidence of symptoms at the time of their swab test or at either the preceding or subsequent tests.

    The remaining 72% of positive cases either did not report having any of the specific or general symptoms on the day of their positive swab test, preceding or subsequent swab tests or did not answer both questions, the ONS added.

    It said that the findings, published on Tuesday, suggested that there was a “potentially large number” of asymptomatic cases of the virus.

  • 'YOUR IGNORANCE IS NOT A DEFENCE, MR WILLIAMSON'

    The Education Secretary has been grilled on Sky News.

  • CHARLES SENDS MESSAGE OF SUPPORT TO AUSTRALIANS AMID CORONAVIRUS SECOND WAVE

    The Prince of Wales said Australians are made of “tough stuff” as he recorded a message of support for people facing a resurgence of coronavirus in Victoria.

    Charles – a future king of the Commonwealth country – said the second wave would have “heartbreaking consequences” for so many, but that the state would emerge stronger than ever.

    “I just wanted to say, on behalf of my wife and myself, that you are so much in our special thoughts at what I can well imagine is a tremendously testing and frustrating time, and that we care deeply for what you are having to go through,” he said.

    Melbourne, the state's capital, has been in lockdown for more than a month, with strict measures now in place, including a night-time curfew.

    Victoria still has more than 7,000 active Covid-19 cases and remains Australia's worst concern.

  • COVID-19 SMELL LOSS 'MUCH MORE PROFOUND' THAN COMMON COLD OR FLU

    Loss of smell associated with Covid-19 infection is “much more profound” when compared with a bad cold or flu, scientists have found.

    A team of researchers across Europe, which included experts from the University of East Anglia, compared the experiences of loss of taste and smell of people who had Covid-19 alongside those with other upper respiratory tract infections.

    In the small study involving 30 people, they also found that unlike common cold or flu, those with Covid-19 cannot detect bitter or sweet tastes.

  • MORE THAN 60,000 CORONAVIRUS LOANS APPROVED FOR UK FIRMS

    The Government has handed out more than £52 billion in coronavirus support to UK firms impacted by the pandemic.

    The majority of this financial support has been paid out through the Bounce Back Loan scheme, which can provide small companies with 100% state-backed loans worth up to £50,000.

    It said that £35.47 billion was approved to be paid to 1,174,854 small UK companies, in the Treasury's latest weekly update.

    More than 60,000 slightly larger firms have also now had loans approved by the state.

    The Treasury said it has now approved £13.68 billion of financial support for 60,409 companies through the coronavirus business interruption loan scheme

  • UK NOW HAS MORE THAN 57,000 CORONAVIRUS DEATHS

    More than 57,000 deaths involving Covid-19 have now been registered in the UK.

    Figures published on Tuesday by the ONS show that 51,935 deaths involving Covid-19 had occurred in England and Wales up to August 7, and had been registered by August 15.

    Figures published last week by the National Records for Scotland showed that 4,213 deaths involving Covid-19 had been registered in Scotland up to August 9 while 859 deaths had occurred in Northern Ireland up to August 7 (and had been registered up to August 12) according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency.

    Together, these figures mean that so far 57,007 deaths have been registered in the UK where Covid-19 was mentioned on the death certificate, including suspected cases.

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